IN his first public speech since being appointed Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams on Friday night laid out his immediate agenda, saying he intends to correct the perception that crime is spiralling out of control.
Williams, speaking at a forum hosted by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GTCIC), entitled "Tackling the Crime Scourge" at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya, said the opportunity was his first to begin corrective measures and to provide statistics that will clear the air on the misconception that crime has increased.
Last Friday's appearance marked Williams' first since the resignations of former CoP Dwayne Gibbs and fellow Canadian, former Deputy CoP Jack Ewatski, two weeks ago.
Their resignations were announced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last week and take effect on August 7.
Despite his introduction as "acting Commissioner of Police", National Security Minister Jack Warner, speaking at the forum, said he had already removed the "acting" from Williams' title.
Williams, while commending the Chamber for its effort, said he was pleased with the Chamber's statements that crime was "everybody's business".
The national community must also recognise this, Williams said, if the situation is to improve.
He said, however, that there were no overnight remedies and he wanted, at this time, to point out that crime, which is measured mostly by the murder rate, had not risen.
Up to yesterday, the murder toll for 2012 stood at 244, higher than the 238 murders committed up to August 4, 2011.
But Williams said statements that crime had risen were being pushed via social and traditional media.
He said: "2012 is not worse than 2011."
"In future, I hope statements like 'spiralling out of control' will not be made," Williams said.
Similar statements have been made by Warner, who has just completed his first month as National Security Minister, and who has said over the past weeks that data is yet to be provided to support claims that crime rates have increased.
While he did not use the phrase "21st century policing", a Gibbs policing plan, Williams said he will be taking the Police Service into the future with better detection and prevention.
Williams referred to the "proactive policing model" which includes high police visibility through increased patrols, as opposed to officers being stationed unless called to a crime scene.
Police officers will not be sent out to patrol arbitrarily, however, which would be a waste of resources.
Williams said while there were many so-called crime "hotspots" across the country these were geographic locations that are actually very small in size.
Detection rates remain low and have historically been a weak area in the local service, he said, and this is largely due to a lack of trust by the public.
In addition to building that trust and encouraging witnesses to come forward, Williams said he hopes science will play a bigger role in solving crime.
"The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service needs to embrace new developments in policing," Williams said.
"One such development is evidence-based policing, a concept which focuses on obtaining scientific evidence about what works best."